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Exercises to ease your knee pain

What can I do to help my knee get better and hurt less?

Take a break from activity that causes a lot of pounding on your legs, such as running, football or rugby. If you want to keep exercising, try low-impact activities like swimming.

You can start to do some gentle exercises to keep your knee moving and build your strength back up. The exercises below should only take a few minutes, and you can gradually increase how often you do them – starting with twice a day is a good start.

Information:

It is important to do the exercises with both legs.

The first two are the most important as they help to make your front thigh muscles (‘quads’) stronger. These muscles straighten the knee and stabilise the kneecap.

After activity you can ease any pain by applying an ice pack (a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel will work) for about 10 minutes, 3 or 4 times a day.

Pain relief such as paracetamol (Calpol), or ibuprofen (often called Nurofen), may also help. Please follow the recommended dosages on the packaging. More advice about paracetamol and ibuprofen can be found here: Paracetamol and ibuprofen.

How long will my knee take to get better?

Knee pain can be hard to treat and your knees won’t get better overnight. It may take 6 weeks or longer for your knee to get better. Being patient and keeping going with the exercises will help.

It is important to remember to:

  • start slowly and build up
  • not ignore pain – if you feel it hurts, stop the exercise
  • not overdo it

Exercises to help your knee pain

After you do all the exercises with one leg, reverse your position, and do the exercises with your other leg.

1. Quadriceps strengthening

Position yourself as shown. Hold your right leg straight, pushing the back of your knee to the floor for 10 to 20 seconds, then relax.

Repeat the exercise 5 to 10 times, with each leg.

person laid on floor with one knee bent

 

 

 

 

2. Quadriceps strengthening-straight leg lift

Position yourself as shown. Raise your right leg several inches, and hold it up for 5 to 10 seconds. Then lower your leg to the floor slowly over a few seconds.

Repeat the exercise 5 to 10 times, with each leg.

Person laid on floor with one leg straight flexing the foot towards the head and raising the leg slightly

 

 

 

 

 

3. Hamstring stretch

Position yourself as shown in the left-hand drawing. Bend your left knee. Grip your thigh with your hands to keep the thigh steady. Straighten your left leg in the air until you feel a stretch. Hold the stretch for 5 to 10 seconds, then relax.

Repeat the exercise 5 to 10 times, with each leg.

Person stood with knee raised and stretching to outwards position

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Calf stretch

Position yourself against a wall as shown. Keep your left heel on the ground to feel the back of the leg stretch. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.

Repeat the exercise 5 to 10 times, with each leg.

Person stood with hands flat on a wall with one leg behind them, straight, and the other in front bent at the knee

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Disclaimer

Please note this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s. The details in this resource may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If you have specific questions about how this resource relates to your child, please ask your doctor.

Resource number: ED23

Resource Type: Article

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